BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Matthew Queen has been acquitted of first-degree murder and instead convicted of the lesser charge of second-degree murder in the death of “Bakersfield 3” member Micah Holsonbake.
The jury found Queen not guilty of torture and kidnapping in connection with Holsonbake’s death, prompting an audible gasp from the audience.
The mixed verdict also included not guilty verdicts on multiple assault charges. Queen was convicted on most of the firearm-related offenses contained in the 35 charges filed against him.
The jury deliberated about three days before returning verdicts around 3 p.m. Thursday.
District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said during a news conference Thursday evening she is proud of the work done by members of her office and the Bakersfield Police Department.
“This has been a very difficult case,” she said.
Prosecutors alleged Queen, 45, and ex-girlfriend Baylee Despot killed Micah Holsonbake in late March 2018, dismembered him and disposed of pieces throughout Kern County. Boys playing in the Kern River found Holsonbake’s arm months later, and a girl located a bag containing his skull last year.
The rest of his body has not been found.
Despot disappeared shortly after family reported Holsonbake missing.
She, Holsonbake and James Kulstad — killed in a shooting unrelated to Queen’s case — became known as the “Bakersfield 3.” They knew each other and either died or went missing within two months.
Prosecutor Eric Smith, who handled the case with Deputy District Attorney Melanie Ayala, said his primary goal was to get a murder conviction and obtain justice for the victim’s family.
“Hopefully this verdict brings that to the Holsonbake family,” he said.
Queen and Holsonbake fabricated AR-15 rifles from components bought online, prosecutors said. It’s alleged Queen believed Holsonbake was responsible when a handgun went missing from his home.
He and Despot brought Holsonbake to the garage of Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele, where they tortured and questioned him, prosecutors said. Then they killed him and cut him up, according to prosecutors.
During testimony last week, Queen blamed Despot for Holsonbake’s death.
Queen said Holsonbake became angry over a joke and pulled a gun on him while hanging out at Queen’s home. Despot entered the room, Queen said, and Holsonbake pointed the gun at her.
With Holsonbake distracted, Queen tackled him, according to his testimony. Despot approached as they struggled on the ground.
She dropped a 40-pound dumbbell on Holsonbake’s head, Queen said. He told the jury they decided to get ride of the body and he called Vandecasteele to use his detached garage.
Vandecasteele took a plea deal last year. He testified Queen came over with Despot but he never saw nor heard Holsonbake.
Queen said he didn’t tell Vandecasteele why he was coming over.
Among the other verdicts, Queen was found guilty of kidnapping Caleb Seiler in January 2019, but not guilty of assault charges stemming from an incident in November of that year where Seiler said Queen zip-tied him to a chair shocked him with a dog collar and pistol-whipped him.
Queen was found guilty of threatening and assaulting Megan Farmer with a firearm. She testified Queen drove her to an orchard, pointed an AR-15 rifle in her face and question her whether Despot had been faithful to him. She said she feared for her life.
The jury, however, did not convict Queen of another threat charge involving Farmer.
Sentencing is set for June 7.